At 1:30pm on Monday 4th February a group of 20 protesters from the Save Birmingham campaign walked into the Council House and occupied the balcony overlooking Victoria Square. The group had previously sent two letters to every councillor in Birmingham the last letter with over 200 signatures but with no response from the council. The Save Birmingham campaign has been steadily growing over the past few months, from rooms packed full of people opposed to the proposed cuts at several of the councils own consultations to a meeting of 175 people called by Communities Against the Cuts to organise a grass roots movement to fight back against the cuts. This led to the day of action on the 4th, the day the Labour Group who have a majority on the Council had a private meeting to agree on the £625m cuts to Birmingham which will be voted through at the budget meeting on 26th February. The day started with a small silent protest in Victoria Square outside the Council House, which was followed by the occupation of the Council House later in the afternoon. The balcony occupation lasted five hours and ended after more than 200 anti-cuts activists arrived in Victoria Square after marching from the Bullring.
Birmingham City Council are set to approve £625m worth of cuts over six years which will start with the £110 million proposed budget reduction in 2013-14. This includes a £4.4 million cut to children’s services budgets and a £1.92m cut in funds used to tackle homelessness which is already a major crisis in Birmingham after previous cuts of £2.3m since 2009. This is on top of unemployed and low income households in Birmingham having to pay an extra £250 after being made to pay 20% Council Tax as of April. These cuts will be following on from cuts of £275 million since 2010. Nationally the average reduction in Government funding for councils as a whole is £74 per person. However, Birmingham’s reduction has been more than double the national average, at £149 per person. These cuts will disproportionately affect some of the countries poorest, Birmingham is ranked the third most deprived Core City (behind Liverpool and Manchester) and has some of the most deprived areas of the country with Ladywood the most deprived constituency in the city
The next stage of the #savebirmingham campaign is a mass mobilisation on February 26th, the day the cuts are officially voted through.
On their website the group say “We are taking this action because the current system cannot go on. It is undemocratic and unfair. We need alternatives and are calling on the city to join with us and to seek another path. We all know that austerity is not only cruel and wrong, but that it is also not working. So to anyone who thinks we should take a stand we say to you that you will find a great many friends and supporters amongst workers, trade unionists and service users in the community.”
dailyalternative | alternative news – Anti-Cuts protesters occupy Birmingham Council House